This article’s first paragraph has been edited for clarity from its print version in our Nov. 16 issue. The sentence “The decision will ultimately be left up to senior administration within the University.” was added.
ASUSF Senate has passed a resolution asking the University of San Francisco to make all bathrooms in non-residential buildings gender-inclusive by next spring. This doesn’t mean single-stall gender-inclusive bathrooms would potentially be added, but instead existing bathrooms would have their male and female signs replaced with gender inclusive ones. The decision will ultimately be left up to senior administration within the University. The Resolution for the Advancement for Gender-Inclusive Restrooms On-Campus, approved unanimously by ASUSF Senate on Oct. 3, is responsible for the proposed change in policy. Queer Alliance’s (QA) Gender Expo on Nov. 9 was the first live public announcement of the resolution’s passing.
The resolution declares that “the current multi-stall gendered-restrooms for public use in all non-residence on-campus buildings […] shall be changed to be labeled and treated as all-gender restrooms” by spring 2018. The signage on all of the doors of these facilities will be changed to read “Gender-Inclusive Restroom.” An educational plaque will accompany the signs next to the door to educate the community on gender inclusivity and the necessity of the bathrooms.
Sophomore critical diversity studies major Sage Hapke (pictured above) wrote the resolution as the Gender and Sexual Minoritized Student Representative on ASUSF Senate. They wrote the goal is “to be a community that focuses on the equity and validity of all community members.”
Nick Heng, the interim assistant director of student government said, “I believe the implementation of gender-inclusive bathrooms is important because it directly addresses an issue that affects a growing community here at USF and is directly in line with one of the core values of USF: cura personalis, care for the whole person.”
For Hapke, one of the biggest challenges in passing the resolution was making clear the resolution is not a single-group, single-issue matter. “It’s actually benefitting the vast majority of students because we are such a diverse population,” Hapke said. “And so it’s been a lot of working with various student orgs to make sure that different voices are included, as well as people off-campus feel comfortable and educated about the topic.” Hapke gave examples of graduate students who may have children of the opposite gender benefitting, or disabled students who have medical aid staff who aren’t able to accompany them into the restroom.
Freshman psychology major and QA executive board member Elliot Marone added another crucial impact the bathrooms have on the community. “For the whole population, I think [the resolution] helps normalize things. It makes you think about that there are other people not like you, so that you understand them more and are less threatened by them because you’ll be around them more,” Marone said.
This concept was also the focal point of the QA’s Gender Expo, following a school-wide email. The event on the UC 4 lounge was widely attended by students, staff and administration alike; even Provost Don Heller was in attendance and tweeted about the event. The presentation addressed common misconceptions about gender and sexual identity and introduced a presentation about appropriate and inclusive ways to talk about the subject of gender identity. The message was simple: don’t make assumptions about people’s identities.
Though the passage of the resolution was a success, Hapke said it was a long-time coming. “I knew I was going to do the resolution the day I started running, last year, because that was an issue I knew was important. And nobody else was talking about it in a way that was actually advancing the progress,” they said. Hapke said they worked with multiple offices to gather evidence for the proposal, to make it “non-negotiable.”
The resolution includes statistics about the effectiveness of gender-inclusive bathrooms in regards to safety. “Whereas,” it states, “64 percent of transgender people will experience sexual assault in their lifetime (more than 1 in 2 transgender people), meanwhile there have been zero reports of sexual misconduct occurring in any gender inclusive restroom throughout the U.S.”
The resolution additionally cites the increase in queer-identifying USF students, the notable majority of queer-identifying students being of color, the fact that there are currently only 14 gender-inclusive restrooms spread around campus and how approximately one out of five USF students openly identify as LGBTQ+.
Featured Photo: Sage Hapke, gender & sexual minoritized student rep., who wrote the resolution that seeks to make all non-residential bathrooms gender-inclusive. RACQUEL GONZALES/FOGHORN